The No. 9 seed Kansas State Wildcats (25-11) take on the No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago Ramblers (31-5) in the South Region Elite Eight. The game will be played at Phillips Arena in Atlanta on Saturday, March 24. Tip-off time is set for 6:09 p.m. ET.
Preview: Kansas State outlasted Kentucky, in one of the ugliest games of the NCAA Tournament. The game featured 50 total fouls, with eight players finishing with at least four, and three KSU players fouling out.
The game featured the return of K-State's Dean Wade, one of the team's best players. He has been absent from the tournament with a lingering foot injury.
Wade played sparingly in the first half, scoring four points, and sat out the entire second half. Kansas State once again had to find a way to advance without its star forward. Xavier Sneed stepped up big, scoring 22 points on just 14 shots, and grabbing nine rebounds in the 61-58 win. It sets up perhaps the most improbably Elite Eight match-up in history.
Loyola-Chicago is the definition of a Cinderella, and they've rambled on to the Elite Eight. In its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985, the team is in the Elite Eight after yet another dramatic victory.
In the Sweet 16, the team knocked off another mid-major darling, seventh-seeded Nevada. The Ramblers stifled the Wolf Pack's up-tempo offense for much of the game, and withstood a big run by the Mountain West power to hold on for a big 69-68 win.
Date: March 24
Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TBS
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lisa Byington
Opening Betting Line: Even, via 5Dimes
Prediction: You have to be impressed with what K-State has done, without a star forward for the vast majority of the NCAA Tournament. Sure, it benefited mightily from the Virginia loss to UMBC, but the Wildcats couldn't help that.
However, the story of the Tournament is Loyola. Even aside from the wonderful Sister Jean, the Ramblers are more than just Cinderella; they're an amazing basketball team.
With UVA out, Loyola took up the mantle of the pack-line defense, and has used it to devastating effect. It has held No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, and now No. 7 Nevada, one of the nation's best offenses, to 68 or fewer points in three straight wins by two or fewer points.
I'm not ready to call for this run to end. Loyola Chicago wins.